Arkansas Shooting Suspect Was Anti-Government Extremist

New York, NY, May 21, 2010 … A suspect in the shooting deaths of two West Memphis, Arkansas police officers was a member of an extreme anti-government movement, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Jerry Kane, 44, was part of the sovereign citizen movement – an extreme right-wing movement that believes that virtually all existing government in the United States is illegitimate and which seeks to "restore" an idealized, minimalist government that never actually existed.

Kane was allegedly involved in a May 20 shooting during a traffic stop that left two police officers dead and two seriously wounded. The other suspect in the shooting has been identified as Kane's teenage son, Joseph Kane. Both suspects were later killed in a second shootout with police.

ADL issued the following statement:

The deaths of two police officers in West Memphis, Arkansas represent the latest acts of violence perpetrated by sovereign citizens – a movement which believes the government holds no authority over them. Historically, adherents of the sovereign citizen movement have engaged in a wide array of criminal activities, ranging from issuing threatening documents to carrying out acts of violence.

Loosely organized, the sovereign citizen movement is dominated by "gurus" who travel the country holding seminars to teach their pseudo-legal and pseudo-historical theories. Jerry Kane was one such sovereign citizen "guru;" at the time of the shootouts he was apparently returning from a seminar he conducted in Las Vegas.

If Jerry Kane is proven responsible for these tragic murders, it would be a new page in the same old book for the sovereign citizens, who have assaulted or killed a number of law enforcement officials in the past 20 years, especially during traffic stops.

According to ADL, Kane's specialty was an arcane sovereign citizen theory called "Redemption," which provides formulas that claim to be able to extricate people from almost any sort of trouble, from financial debts to traffic tickets. From 2003-2006, a popular "Redemption" tactic was to assert the ability to eliminate people's mortgages. The tactic picked up again in the wake of the recent housing crisis; Kane's seminars emphasized this mortgage angle.

Both the sovereign citizen and militia movement have been growing in number and activity in the past two years. In April 2010, ADL warned about the growth of right-wing, anti-government extremist movements and the possibility of violent confrontations with authorities by such groups and individuals.

Prior to this latest incident, 19 law enforcement officers around the country had been killed by right-wing extremists during the period 2001-2010.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.